We have had an amazing sunny day today at the beautiful Harlow Carr in Harrogate. Emma and I don’t get to meet up as much as we would like so it makes these days out together all the more special. I have and RHS card so I can get myself and a guest into the gardens and I have visited more than enough time to make the membership worth it. Harlow is one of four gardens run buy the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and has a wide variety of landscapes from woodland to meadow to kitchen gardens. There are three different play areas for kids as well as lots of other sculptures and things to explore and look at.
We started with a visit to Bettys Tea Room which is a Yorkshire treasure. The cakes always look and taste divine. We went early on as it does get really busy and our two boys would not entertain the idea of waiting quietly in a queue. We decided that sitting outside on the terrace was the best idea so that the boys could run around and not disturb anyone else. We ordered some tea, milk and cake and enjoyed the nice sunny weather and the beautiful gardens. There are baby change facilities in the tea rooms as well as more in the reception. Bettys also has a little cafe set in the gardens themselves so that you can have refreshments whilst you enjoy the garden.
I love coming back here and experiencing all the different seasons through the flowers and plants, even in the winter it is lovely. We came when the snowdrops were out earlier in the year and it looked like drifts of snow through the trees, it was spectacular. Today it was a kaleidoscope of colour and the boys loved it. They were off straight away smelling all the flowers and running around. There were some gorgeous multi-coloured candelabra primulas and primula vialii (left) that were particularly striking around the garden and I couldn’t stop taking photos of them.
There are lots of different parts to the garden that you can take a whole day to explore and still not see it all. It is full of nooks and cranny’s to get lost in even though it isn’t a huge garden. We let the boys lead the way which worked most of the time and in contrast to going to a historic house or museum very little damage can be done and they can run around to their hearts content.
We wandered up into the wooded area where there are loads of things for kids to play on and climb. They had a lot of fun in the wooden boat pretending to sail to far and distant shores and then found a big wooden spider to clamber over. We found a fantastic tree house with its great wooden bridge that the boys must of gone back and forth 20 times. It was reasonable quiet when we were there so we had the place more or less to ourselves so we could let the boys run around though there are a couple of drops from the tree house so you have to be a little on your guard to make sure there aren’t any falls.
We had a picnic in the gardens, the boys like usual never sat still so a nice peaceful picnic it was not. The boys were constantly running off climbing steps, hiding in bushes so consequently not a great deal of lunch was eaten but hey they were having fun and doing what kids do best.
We found a great childrens park area that I had never been to before. E loved the slide and went up and down countless times. There was a circular obstacle course with wooden steps, posts and ramps to jump and walk across and a rope swing which both boys needed a little help with so it was a bit of a mummy workout as well, who needs a gym when you have a toddler?
Harlow Carr boasts one of the longest streamside gardens in the country. There are multiple bridges set across the stream and the boys must have spent a good 30 minutes picking up and throwing stones into the water. They loved listening for the sound as the stones plopped into the water and watching the splash. Emma and I could relax for a bit and have a proper catch up rather than both running in opposite direction after our children.
We found a lovely little area by the pond and meadow to have a drink and a snack and were suddenly surrounded by a mummy duck and her ducklings much to the boys delight. They were very friendly and wanted a part in our snack stop so they got some apple thrown at them which i’m not sure they were particularity tempted by.
I highly recommend Harlow Carr as a place to visit no matter what age you are. There is so much to enjoy whilst you stroll (or run) around this beautiful slice of paradise. There is even a little fairy ring that invites you to make a wish, you never know it may come true.